Friday, 30 March 2018

What’s new down at Woden Street?

Now the Friends of the Cornbrook to Castlefield Deansgate metro line finally have something to stare at.

Just across the water that “prestigious hotel style development of one, two and three bedroom apartments” offering “riverside living” are beginning to take shape.

And I notice from Andy’s pictures that the name Downtown is prominent.

For a long time this was just an open space with nothing more interesting than channels and pits but not any more.

I suppose if I went looking at the planning consent I would find out how big they will rise, but given that their neighbours are giants these I suspect will follow suit.

And those views of the old brick warehouses will soon be lost, leaving the bored commuter to ponder on what once stood on the site of Downtown.

Well I went looking and I can tell you that in 1893 it was the Irwell Rubber Works which stood beside the Liver Iron Foundry and the Craven Iron Foundry.

And that is all.

Location; Woden Street

Pictures; Woden Street 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson 

Eltham Church on a March day ........ from the camera of Ryan

Now you can never get enough of pictures of Eltham in my opinion.


And on that I fully accept I am biased for as much as I love my adopted city of Manchester there will always be a bit of me that is Eltham.

So here is one of Ryan’s photographs which he says “whilst out shopping I passed by the St John the Baptist church. 

As I had a great opportunity I thought of several people . 

Eltham is changing so much now I had to take this photo ."

Location; Eltham














Picture; St John’s Eltham, 2017 from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Thursday, 29 March 2018

In the parish graveyard at Eltham

Eltham Church from the north, 1870
I can’t remember the last time I wandered through the parish churchyard but given that I left for Manchester in 1969 it will have been a long time.

Had I done so in 1851 there would have been plenty of gravestones to read many of which dated back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Not that I intend to record them here.  Instead I want just to reflect on how the church would have appeared from the northern part of the graveyard.

And I have to agree with Sir Stephen Glynne who in 1830 wrote that it was of “a mean fabric, much patched and modernised; with scarce a trace of anything like good work, and from repeated alterations, the plan has become irregular.”*

But no less a place deep in the affections of many local people.

*Sir Stephen Glynne 1830, Churches of Kent

Picture; from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

“Rubble at Mill” .......... down by the Duke’s Canal at Hulme Hall Road

It has been sometime since I have featured the story of the building at Hulme Hall Road.

It was a subject I regularly covered as Andy Robertson, visited the site after a fire had ripped through the building, and he then went back recording its demolition.

And now he has returned, with a new series of pictures which I suspect will have the promise of many more.

In the intervening period Derek the Developer has got there and the posters along the side of the site announce “CANALSIDE LIVING IN THE HEART OF HISTORIC MANCHESTER” with "one, two and three bedroom apartments”.to the sky in a huge block

The finished project, judging from the artist’s impression will rise eight stories into the sky.

It is not on a par with the giant towers which are springing up nearby but is in keeping with others in the vicinity.

But it does look big.

So, where once tall warehouses, factories and mills stood by the canal side, we now have equally tall blocks of apartments, reflecting that move from manufacture to "Canalside living".

I could say more but will await events.

That said I will close with the image which prompted Andy’s title of “Rubble at Mill”.

Location; Hulme Hall Road







Pictures; Hulme Hall Road, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Passing the parish church one Sunday in November and remembering Bradshaw's guide

Now I like Ryan’s picture of Eltham Church which got me thinking about how a modern guide book would describe it.

Back in 1861 Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs reported that visitors should
“go and see Eltham Church; not that it is architecturally remarkable, but in the churchyard will be found a tomb to Doggett the comedian, who bequeathed the coat and badge still rowed for every 1st of August by the ‘jolly young watermen of the Thames.”*

Sadly for anyone using that edition and happening on the church a decade and a bit later they would have been disappointed because it no longer existed having been replaced by the one we know today.

Work on the present church began in 1871 and was finished eight years later  just  3 metres north of the old site and occupying a larger area.

At which point I do have to be careful because those with a much greater knowledge than I will point out that the unfinished building was consecrated in 1875.

The spire was added in 1879 when funds became available and s service of thanksgiving for the completion of the building was conducted by Rev. Walter J Sowerby on 24th June 1880 which is the  feast day of St John the Baptist.**

So there you have it ................ three possible dates for the historian with an eye for detail to go for.

In the meantime I will go looking for a later edition to Bradshaw’s guide book to see if they updated the entry and leave you with this earlier photograph of the parish church from the 1860s.

Back then the clock ticked the hours away and it is nice to know that after some time the clock in Ryan's photograph is again offering up the correct time.



Pictures;  Eltham Church, 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn and back in  1860,  from The story of Royal Eltham,  R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm,

* Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs, 1861, republished in 2012 by Conway

**Eltham Parish Church,  http://elthamchurch.org.uk/wp/?page_id=2

On Port Street ...... with an update and a little bit more.

Last week I was on Port Street, with a story occasioned by some of Andy Robertson’s pictures and in particular this building.*

Port Street, 2018
Not that long ago it was part of a block from where Goldfayre Trading were located, but now part of the building has gone and what is left won’t be long for the demolisher’s ball.

So as you do, I wandered back in time.  In 1851 this row of properties was home to an iron merchants, a druggist, two spindle makers, and assorted shops.

While directly behind, were two arms of the Rochdale Canal, one of which finished at the back of number 64 while the other ran parallel to Port Street down to Brewer Street.  Between them they served two timber yards, a stone and lime yard and Burn’s Cotton Mill.

Port Street, 1966
They were still there in 1894 and number 64 was still an iron merchants run by the firm of Hall and Pickles who are listed at the address a full 40 years earlier.

A few days later after I had posted the story, Geoff got in touch to say that, "Hall & Pickles are still trading from Poyton. 

One of the country's largest steel distributors. Started in 1812 and still a family business”.

And not to be out done Andy trawled the records and came up with this image of Port Street and that building in 1966.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Port Street, 2018,  from the collection of Andy Robertson and in 1966, W. Higham, m04946, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*Port Street ...... waiting for something to happen,  https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/port-street-waiting-for-something-to.html

Monday, 26 March 2018

Calling in at the parish church on a spring day in 1851 at the start of our Eltham walk

The Old Vicarage from Well Hall Lane, 1833
Now I had planned on starting our walk up the High Street in the spring of 1851 at Sherad House which was roughly on the site now occupied by the Nat West Bank.

But that would be to ignore the church and the vicarage.

So like all best laid plans it has gone out of the window, and instead I am at the corner of Sherard Road which was where Well Hall Lane began.

All of which was a surprise to me given that I have always thought that Well Hall Road began beside the church and the old Burtons and ran north to the station.  But not so, once before the beginning of the last century it had a more devious route and before it was Well Hall Lane had been known as Woolwich Road “so called because it led to Woolwich.”*

And so standing by the beginning of what was Well Hall lane and is now Sherard Road, this is what we would have seen.  In the distance are the old church which was demolished in 1875 and the vicarage.

The Church, circa 1860s
Now the old church was not exactly the most elegant of places leading one writer to comment that it was

“A mean fabric, much patched and modernised; with scarce a trace of anything like good work, and from repeated alterations, the plan has become irregular.”**

But that belies the point that this was a working church at the heart of the community and which underwent alterations partly to reflect its growing use.

So I shall return to the description of the place
“The nave has a south aisle cased in brick, and a north chapel of stone, bearing the date 1667, with square headed, labelled windows, and a door of mixed Italian character.  

The chancel was wholly brick.  At the west end of the nave was a tower of flint, cased with brick, with large Buttresses and pointed doorway.  It was surmounted with a spire of wood, covered with lead (shingle).  

Inside the old Church
Galleries were carried all around the interior of the church, and a double one at the west end, with an organ.  The north chapel opened to the nave by three pointed arches, with octagonal pillars.”

Now at this point I have to confess that much of the story is not original research but comes from that wonderful book, The Royal Story of Eltham, by R.R.C.Gregory, which I will use again when we spend more time in and around the church its vicarage and actually begin the walk up the High Street.

Location; Eltham, Londson

*R.R.C.Gregory The Royal Story of Eltham, 1909

**Sir Stephen Glynne 1830, Churches of Kent

Pictures; from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm,


A bus, a holiday home and a restoration project ........ Manchester Corporation 436

Now I like a good story and so much the better if it has already been written.

So naturally when I saw this one posted by Brian from the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester I just scooped it up.

And the rest as they say speaks for itself.

"One of our most precious buses is Manchester Corporation 436 - it's the only surviving pre-war Manchester double decker bus. 

It's awaiting restoration but we're gradually raising funds and you can donate by texting GMTS01 £5 (or £1, £1, £3 or £10) to 70070.

436 is in a pretty poor state right now, having survived for decades as a static caravan in Shropshire. 


But we know a lot about 436, through its maintenance records. The picture shows the first page of its engine maintenance card and if you take some care to inspect it closely it’s full of information. 

For example, in April 1935 when less than a year old it had 'repairs to auxiliary drive, 2 fan belts. 

1 aluminium fan fitted, Crossley Motors' which shows that Crossley did the work under guarantee. As late as October 1948 it had 'soft liners fitted' – this meant cylinder liners.


It also helps if you know some of the codes that MCT used for repair jobs – 'C1' meant cylinder head changed, 'F' meant work on the fuel pump, 'H' meant work on the vacuum exhauster and 'V' denoted that valves had been ground in.

It’s a fascinating window into the work that went in behind the scenes to keep the wheels turning (and still does to maintain our museum collection)”.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; from the collection of Museum of Transport Greater Manchester

* Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, http://www.gmts.co.uk/

Sunday, 25 March 2018

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 100 ......... breakfast on Beech Road

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

Breakfast in 1958
Of course we will never know what Joe and Mary Ann had for breakfast.

And in the half century they lived here, it may well have changed, from those heavy traditional English breakfasts, varied or accompanied by porridge to the new breakfast cereals which began to make their appearance in the 1930s.

Two world wars which brought food shortages and rationing will also have determined what they ate.

Growing up in the 1950s our breakfast diet was very much those new cereals, from Sugar Puffs, and Cornflakes to a bewildering selection of alternatives, partly chosen because of the free toys which were contained in the box.

Granddad always ate porridge which he made the night before while dad, if he ate the stuff always insisted on eating it with salt.

More often than not Dad just had toast, left to go cold and then eaten with butter and perhaps ginger marmalade.

Breakfast with a toy; circa1957
And I have followed my father.  In his case it may have been influenced by the years he spent abroad eating “Continental breakfasts” in hotels from France to Italy.

I never asked him what he made of the idea of having cake on the breakfast menus and I must confess I found it a surprise the first time I encountered it but then the step from jam and toast to cake is just one sweet thing next.

Advice in 1947
Rosa and Simone and the Italian side of the family often skip breakfast entirely making do with a large cup of milky coffee into which they will dunk the bread from yesterday.

This “zuppa di latte”** has never attracted me and I am looked after by Rosa with toast made on a special griddle and butter which is bought in only when we stay.

Although if we do go out for breakfast I am always tempted by the big breakfast bomboloni,  filled with custard, or apricot jam.

The good breakfast
Joe and Mary Ann I doubt ever ate breakfast out unless they were on holiday, nor do I think she would have relied on those Ministry of Food Information sheets issued during and just after the war, which gave advice on how to make interesting meals from rationed food.

The 1947 leaflet offered up a choice of breakfast meals with a fish theme, including Frilled Fish, Herring Roe Savoury, Hard Roe, Grilled Pilchards on Toast and Grilled Pilchards on Fried Bread.

None of which appeal to me, but then I have always been a jam, cake and custard donuts chap.

That said I rather like the idea of the leaflet on Hedgerow Harvests which combines all the fun of a walk in the countryside with the idea that the food is free.

But that as they say is for another time.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson


**“zuppa di latte”, milky soup

Down on Beech Road at the pet shop

Now I have long and fond memories of the pet shop on Beech Road.

For years when the children were still young it was a place we visited for everything from dog food to cat litter and a whole assortment of other stuff needed to cater for the gerbils, rabbits, and hamsters which turned up at the door and were taken in.

I always drew the line at goldfish but that never stopped me taking the children down into the cellars of the shop to look at the magic of all those exotic and multi coloured fish.

Looking back I guess that this was partly a cheap trip out but also a bit of an attempt to recreate my own childhood although in my case it was the regular trip to the cattle market in the town my grandparents lived.

So less pets and more farmers but the idea remains the same, and in turn it reminded me of the variety of different shops we had on Beech Road as late as the 1970s.

Now of course today there is still variety but  where once we had a range of food shops along with a hardware store, one selling televisions and another dealing with all things wool, that traditional scene has gone.

So I like the idea that we have a pet shop which is still pretty much as it was when I first starting going in there and so have decided to return to Peter’s painting from 2012.

Paintings; Pet Shop, Beech Road © 2012 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,
Facebook:  Paintings from Pictures

In the parish graveyard

I wish I had spent more time exploring the parish grave yard.

But when you are growing up wandering past the monuments to the long dead is not very high on the agenda.

And yet for the historian they are a powerful insight into what a community was like in the past and Eltham’s is no different.

Here for centuries were buried the good, the wealthy and those whose rank and occupation was such that they have left few records.

But some at least of those that lived here will be recorded both in the parish records and in the grave stones.

Not that I intend to name them or for that matter to dwell on their lives but more to reflect on what can be learnt from combining the inscriptions with those held in the church books.

Once upon a time the researcher had to visit the individual parishes, or walk through the often overgrown church plots seeking a family member or just getting a sense of things like life expectancy and the pattern of
names.

Now of course most records are held on microfilm in local history libraries and increasingly are being digitalised.

All of which makes possible for the historian  to track individuals from the comfort of a kitchen table.

Now there are those who regret this development, but I am not one of them. What once took months of slow laborious work can be undertaken in a few hours and opens up parts of the country which would otherwise be a train away.

Of course there is still a thrill at holding an old document secure in the knowledge that perhaps only a handful of people have touched its pages in two centuries.

Likewise to stand in front of the gravestone of a long lost family member is to get close to them.

All of which I think has written me into a new series of stories, matching those buried in the grounds of St John’s with the stories of their lives from the census returns, rate books and casual comments of their contemporaries.

And for all those who like a bit of homework, I recommend a visit to the parish graveyard and a walk with history.

Pictures courtesy of Jean Gammons

Port Street ...... waiting for something to happen

Now it is a while since I have been down on Port Street.

Nu 64 Port Street, and a car park, which was once a canal, 2018
The last time I was there,  there was that feel that this was a place waiting for something to happen.

Most of the buildings had gone, replaced by car parks, which as everyone knows must be a prelude to a big building boom.

I think I counted 4 buildings on the stretch from Faraday Street up to Great Ancoats Street.

A few years before there had been more, and while there is now a nearly completed  development on the corner with Great Ancoats Street, the rest looks empty and forlorn.

That development at the end of Port Street, 2018
And I don’t suppose I would have given Port Street much more of a thought, had it not been for Andy’s picture which he took last week of what I think is no 64.

Not that long ago it was part of a block from where Goldfayre Trading were located, but now part of the building has gone and what is left won’t be long for the demolisher’s ball.

So as you do, I wandered back in time.  In 1851 this row of properties was home to an iron merchants, a druggist, two spindle makers, and assorted shops.

Nu 75 Port Street, opposite 
While directly behind, were two arms of the Rochdale Canal, one of which finished at the back of number 64 while the other ran parallel to Port Street down to Brewer Street.  Between them they served two timber yards, a stone and lime yard and Burn’s Cotton Mill.

They were still there in 1894 and number 64 was still an iron merchants run by the firm of Hall and Pickles who are listed at the address a full 40 years earlier.

The building is now empty but as Andy’s picture shows it is still there.

Although, I wouldn’t put money on it being so for much longer.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Port Street from the collection of Andy Robertson

Mrs Blomely’s pond, the secret of the Edge Lane Lake and other little known stories ........ the Quirks Sunday walk with the past

In the graveyard, with murdered Mary Moore and a burial scandal
The sun shone, the interested turned out, and the first of the new series of history walks was a success.

The trip through our past started at the Narnia lamp post on the green, made its way down to the old parish church yard and then by degree up past the Horse & Jockey, circumnavigating the Edge Lane Lake hard by Scotch Hill and culminating at the Lloyd’s Hotel.

It is a walk I have conducted before but it is never quite the same each time I do it.

And that makes it fun because setting aside the basic bits of history I am never quite sure what we will encounter.

On the green, trespassing in Sam Wilton's garden
This time it was the murder of Mary Moore, the scandalous treatment of the Methodists who were cheated out of their Sunday School, a split over where to build the new parish church, and the day the Mersey flooded with no warning.

Along the way there was lots about farming in Chorlton, the story of New Chorlton and of course the Edge Lane Lake and Mrs Blomely's pond.

Not to forget the day Sam Wilton stole the village green from the people of Chorlton and how we got it back almost 90 years later.

Which just leaves me to thank the “historical crowd”, who walked the walk, and announce that number 2 will be in May and will feature Marledge, taking in Kemp’s Corner, some banks, a library, two picture palaces and that place called the Isles.

At Lauriston House looking up at the features
As ever it will be free, fun and finish no more than hour after we start.

Now, that can’t be bad ....... back for Sunday dinner or Poldark on the telly ..... whichever comes first.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures, in the graveyard and at the Laursiton Club, 2018 from from the collection of John Hulls and in Mr Wilton's garden, 2018, courtesy of  Peter Topping

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Pictures of Eltham I wish I had taken ................ passing our parish church

You can never get enough pictures of Eltham and so here is another from Ryan.

And that is all I want to say.

Except he did show me some interesting letters posted recently in SE 9 about the history of the clock which I may well pursue.












Picture; St John’s, 2014, Ryan Ginn

Always look up

Here if you ever needed it, is another of those simple lessons in always looking up.

I have passed these buildings so many times and have never really looked up to admire them.

Usually I am hurrying past and get no further than garish mix of signage at ground level.

Although I do have to admit for a while in the late 1970s and early ‘80s I regularly called in at Grassroots the alternative book shop.

But then the demands of a young family precluded leisurely saunters through town on Saturday mornings, and then when I did go back the bookshop had gone.

Still the buildings are there and in the March sunlight Andy caught them at their best.

Now I do have to confess to being a tad lazy and have not gone looking for their history, but someone will know it and tell me.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Always look up, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Friday, 23 March 2018

There has always been a developer .....on Port Street in the summer of 1851

Now the current wave of new build in the city shouldn’t blind us to that simple truth that the Victorian and Edwardian developer got there first, and no doubt when George lll was poised to lose us the American colonies, smart young 18th century speculators were happy to sweep away our Tudor past.

Port Street, 2018
And had we been privy to their discussions I bet phrases like “exciting new development”, “properties fit for the new century soon to dawn” and a “regeneration which would deliver new jobs with affordable homes” would have whizzed around the room.

All of which is an introduction to the new series of pictures taken by Andy Robertson of the streets around Stevenson Square, which was just one of those late 18th century developments.

Port Street, 1851
Wandering around Newton Street and onto Hilton and Port Street, Andy captured some of those bold new buildings which promised much.

His first is that stretch of Port Street from Hilton Street to Faraday Street which offers up some early 19th century properties with others from a later period.

Back in the 1850s, just beyond the pink walls of the Crown and Anchor were a row of properties which are now the site number 50 Hilton Street.

It was built in 1907 and has those impressive huge arched windows.

And if you continue past the Crown and Anchor, having taken in the two storey houses you arrive at that tall Victorian building which replaced similar modest properties.

Old and very old, Port Street, 2018
I haven’t yet got a date for its construction.  I know it post dates 1851 and it will just be a matter of trawling the directories and the Rate Books to find when it was built.

So Andy’s picture pretty much has the lot.

And yes if you cross the road there are some fine early 19th century properties.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Port Street, 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson, and the area in 1851 from Adsheads map of Manchester, 1851, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Crossing the bar .......... the thank you

Now in the early evening of yesterday the blog passed the four million mark.

Sardinia, 2013
This I say, not out of any vain and boastful bout of self congratulation but more out of a sense of gratitude to those four million readers and to the people who have contributed to the blog since it was set up at the end of November 2011.

And here I know I will miss some one out, but I am sure those who are not conducted into the Hall of Fame will not mind.

It is a long list and includes Andy Robertson who has been recording the changing landscape and buildings across Greater Manchester and whose portfolio of images are an invaluable record of how the Twin Cities continue to adapt and change.

Manchester, 1979
And of course there are the paintings of Peter Topping, the first of which appeared on the blog six years ago and regularly form a backdrop for a story and more often than not are the story.

Peter and I now collaborate on a range of projects from exhibitions to festivals and of course books, of which we have written five together, with two more planned for the end of the year.

Alongside those images there are the articles which have been contributed by Martin, Tony, Sally, Susan, and a host of other people.

Each of them has brought their own interests and research to the blog producing some fine pieces.

And the blog wouldn’t be half as a successful if it wasn’t for those like Tricia, Neil, Bill, and Sally and many more who have offered up their research with just the throw away comment “I know you can make something of this”, and along with the research there have been all those people who have passed over a picture or agreed to me using one of their own photographs.

Greenwich by the River Thames, 1979
Of these I do have to single out David Harrop, who will contact me to say he has just acquired a new picture postcard and asking if I can use it, or suggesting stories from his vast collection of memorabilia from two world wars and the history of the Post Office.

And also Dave Kennedy, who has been happy to share his father’s photograph album with me as well as his own extensive collection.

To which must be added Neil Simpson and his colleagues at Central Ref who have uncovered a fascinating new archive of Manchester pictures and Ron for his magnificent collection of old picture postcards and ghost signs and Ryan's of London Bridge.

London, 1983
Nor can I miss out that long list of other blog writers, which includes my old friend Lois in Weston-Super-Mare, my new friend Liz the archivist at the Together Trust, Lorri and Arthur in Canada, and heaps of others who have allowed me to plunder their work and in return have referenced and show cased my stories.

At which point I also have to acknowledge social media and especially Facebook, which remains a powerful platform for all of us to share our photographs and articles, while making it possible to connect with people and places around the planet.

And finally there are my sisters and our four lads who have at times gone out of their way to take a picture I have asked for or shared their holiday pictures.

So thank you to our Jillian who has an impressive portfolio of her own photographs,  Liz, Colin & Theresa, and Ben, Luca, Joshua and Saul and their partners.

Saul and Emilka's pictures of Naples and southern Israel have provided me with some fine stories, as have those of our cousin Chris and Andrea in Canada

Greece, 2014
All of which is turning into a mutual pat on the back, and that would never do, so I shall leave it there, with just the obvious comment .......... never feel shy about bringing on a story, a picture, or some research and of course a thank you to the four million.


Location; pretty much everywhere


Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

“On Edge Lane strolling by Longford Park in the early 1900s”

Now here is a picture of Edge Lane I haven’t seen before.

It dates from around 1900 and was found by my friend Sally “in an old book, that is in such a bad state, and 
pongs so badly of damp that in between scanning the pictures it has to live outside!”

She posted it recently on that excellent facebook site Greater Manchester History, Architecture, Faces and Places which challenges that silly prejudice that social networking is trivial.*

This site and others continue to provide an exchange of pictures stories and historical investigation which would otherwise not be available and often starts an interesting debate.

Above all it reminds me that history, our history is not just the preserve of the academic and the professional historian but belongs to us all and every one of us can make a contribution to what we know about the past.

“On Edge Lane strolling by Longford Park in the early 1900s” will have been one of countless images available back then but which have long been lost.  Many were taken by commercial photographers and made their way onto picture postcards but plenty more will have been taken by amateurs and have not survived.

What I particularly like about this one is that it is a scene that hasn’t changed much in over a century and there will be many who have fond memories of taking a similar stroll on a sunny day in late spring, and early summer.

So there you have it, a little bit of Edge Lane a century and a bit ago which I guess has pretty much not seen the light of day for a long time.

And that just leaves me to hope Sally will persevere with that smelly book and share more hidden gems.

Picture; on Edge Lane strolling by Longford Park in the early 1900s, courtesy of Sally Dervan

* Greater Manchester History, Architecture, Faces and Places 

Treasures from Back Piccadilly ...... the bits that get passed over ....No.3

Now in the case of this picture from Back Piccadilly it is less a bit of a building and more the lot.


But it is still one that I usually don’t give a second glance to, so here it is.























Location; Manchester

Picture; Back Piccadilly, 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

“The best single test of any civilisation is the way in which children are treated” ...... the continuing story*

Understandably, most of those interested in the migration of children to Canada focus on that period when organizations in Britain sent young people across the Atlantic.

The work of the charity in 1971
And while there is a growing interest in the “big story” many still see the history as a context to place their own BHC relative, and there is nothing wrong in that.**

But here in Britain, the care and welfare of young people continued to undergo considerable change brought on by the recognition of the part the State had to play and in new ideas about how children should be looked after.

The old Workhouse as we know it and as many came to hate, went in the 1930s.

Legislation in 1929 allowed local authorities to take over the infirmaries run by the workhouses and transform them into municipal hospitals and abolished the Poor Law Unions in England and Wales along with their Boards of Guardians, transferring their powers to local authorities.

Two decades later the creation of the Welfare State in 1948 further changed the role of the children's charities and effectively created a partnership between them and the State.

Now all of this is reflected in the continuing story of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge which was founded in1870 and is still going strong.***

Their work  in 1972
It did migrate children but stopped before most, having taken the decision in the Great War to keep young people in Britain, and then never reactivated the scheme.

After the war it also took the bold step of relocating many of activities outside the twin cities of Manchester and Salford in what it called the Belmont Children’s Village  in rural Cheadle.

Young people were to be cared for in smaller “family units” and following the Curtis Report in 1946 these were further developed and became smaller more intimate homes.

The recommendations from the Curtis Report were adopted by the Government which placed local authorities at the centre of caring for children without parents, or who had an unsatisfactory home life.

Charities would now work in partnership with local authorities and were guaranteed an income by providing care homes and services.

But the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge continued as a charity which allowed it to move into new areas where there was a perceived need which local authorities were slow to get involved in or were retreating from.

Facing issues, 1985
And this has continued to be the pattern with the charity involved in helping families as well as vulnerable children and changing its name to the Together Trust to reflect its broadening areas of care.

Along the way it has had to adapt to the a surge of new ideas about how how looked after children should be cared for and a growing emphasis on a partnership between the State and charities with a growing reliance on private companies.

Interestingly the creation of an inspection service for schools and children’s services in 1989 showed that when the charity was inspected it was deemed to be at the forefront of good practice.

Everyone deserves an equal chance, 2018
But that retreat by the State which is driven by political ideology and financial considerations has begun to bring us full circle, back to the 1870s when the charity was established.

Local authorities are having to make hard decisions about priorities because they don’t have the money and charities are filling the gap.

Between 1992 and 2010, The Together Trust grew from 100 members of staff, five homes, and one school to over 800 staff and 30 social care, education and community services.

All of which makes the story one without an end

Location; Manchester & Cheadle

Pictures; from annual reports of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’s Refuges, courtesy of the Together Trust, https://www.togethertrust.org.uk/

*Lord Mayor of Manchester

**BHC, British Home Children, refers to the young people migrated to Canada, Australia and other parts of the former British Empire

***A new book on the Together Trust, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20the%20Together%20Trust